You may be very good at listening to other people and sometimes it is not necessary to say very much at all in response. For instance, if a distressed person is telling you their troubles, they probably just want you to listen in a way that shows them you care.
At other times you need to say quite a bit in response and say something relevant. An instance of this would be when planning an event like a birthday celebration or something at work. Other people need you to join in with what’s being said.
In a formal setting, like an appraisal at work, you need to speak positively and be careful how you respond, especially if you feel that you’re being criticised.
Some situations are more serious. When asked to give evidence in court or asked questions about an incident, you need to be careful not only to word things very carefully, but also to consider how much information to give. It is not a time for making jokes or trying to make things seem unimportant.
Active listening is an easy way of showing someone that you are listening and of encouraging them to continue. Active listening includes things like:
- short verbal prompts (such as ’hmm’ or ’yep’)
- eye contact
- asking questions
- a positive body position (such as leaning forward).